Electricity in Saskatchewan
Avg. price: 11.95¢/kWh (7th-lowest among provinces)
2010 capacity: 3,902 MW
2020 forecast capacity: 4,503 MW
Peak use (2009): 3,231 MW
Cross-border trade: Imports 224 gWh (costs $7.6 million)
GHG intensity rank: 3rd-highest
GHG emissions goal: 20% below 2006 levels by 2020
Green targets: conservation equivalent to 100 MW by 2017
Saskatchewan's fossil-fuel-based generating mix — 43 per cent of its capacity is from coal and 31 per cent from gas — makes it the second-grimiest province after Alberta, measured by electricity-sector GHG emissions per capita. None of those coal plants will disappear come 2020, but the provincial government hopes a prodigious puff of their smoke will. It has invested in a $1.2-billion project to capture and store a million tonnes a year of carbon dioxide from the Boundary Dam plant in Estevan, Sask.
Do you want to know how much you'll be paying for electricity in 2020? Try the provincial cost calculator.
The carbon-capture effort, a relatively new and unproven way to mitigate CO2 emissions, is slated to be ready by 2015. That's not a moment too soon, because expected federal regulations on coal power plants would otherwise force SaskPower to shut down several units at Boundary Dam, which accounts for a fifth of the province's generating capacity.
If the carbon sequestration works, Saskatchewan could be in the clear. If not, it will face some hard choices: the province is forecast to see among the highest growth in peak electricity demand of all the provinces.
Other plans to meet that load include two gas plants totalling 350 MW, and 250 MW of additional small-scale wind farms. Saskatchewan also has a net-metering scheme — similar to a program in Ontario — for small producers of renewable power, enabling them to bank excess generation at one time of day or month against later electricity use. There are subsidies to help with startup costs.
To help reduce electricity consumption the government announced on March 16 that it would extend the EnerGuid program, which offers incentives of up to $5,000 to homeowners who improve energy efficiency, including better windows, doors, insulation and furnace equipment.